Netanyahu rival says PM pushed submarine deal for personal gain

Blue and White party head Benny Gantz said that Netanyahu’s personal financial gain in the submarine affair means he put his interest ahead of the state’s.

By World Israel News Staff

After the embarrassing news that Blue and White party chief Benny Gantz’s cell phone was hacked, reportedly by Iran, and Likud accusations that Iran wants Gantz to win, the Blue and White party is firing back, jumping on revelations that the prime minister had previously undisclosed financial interests related to the ‘Submarine Affair.’

The Blue and White party made its charges after the office of Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit revealed late last week that the prime minister’s role in the decision to purchase nuclear submarines from the German firm ThyssenKrupp is again under review.

The decision to review the case follows an Israeli Channel 13 report last Wednesday which revealed that until 2010, Netanyahu and his cousin Natan Milikovsky each owned shares in GrafTech International, a company providing services to ThyssenKrupp, which built Dolphin-class submarines for Israel.

Netanyahu became prime minister in 2009, creating a potential conflict of interest. Until now, Netanyahu was said not to have been a suspect in this case, though close advisers and confidants of the prime minister have been implicated.

The Blue and White party is demanding that Netanyahu come clean regarding his alleged role in the Submarine Affair.  Gantz charges that the prime minister was prepared to “damage [Israel’s] security” by allowing ulterior motives to influence his decision about the purchase of the submarines.

In a Monday evening press conference, Gantz said, “We stand before you – three Chiefs of Staff and a Security Cabinet member from whom it was hidden that the Prime Minister was getting money: 16 million shekels. Sixteen million shekels that went into Netanyahu’s pocket from a company that was directly connected to the submarines. It is crisis of confidence in his leadership; it is a breakdown that cannot be repaired.”

“I’m announcing here that we will set up a national committee of inquiry to investigate this affair and all those involved in it,” Gantz said.

The Submarine Affair involves high-profile Israeli figures who allegedly accepted bribes to promote the sub deal. Suspects in the case, all of whom surrounded the prime minister, but denied he knew anything about it, are charged with fraud, bribery, breach of trust, money laundering and other violations.

Netanyahu denies

Meeting with local leaders in the Samarian town of Shiloh on Tuesday, Netanyahu said “I didn’t get a shekel from the submarine deal.”

“This was checked extensively by the prosecution and the attorney general. They stated unequivocally that I am not suspected of anything,” he said.

Netanyahu also said that Gantz’s remarks about it being “the greatest security-related corruption case” in Israel’s history was a result of “panic” on the part of Gantz and fellow Blue and White leader Yair Lapid.

He said he’s not surprised by the accusations of Gantz and Lapid, saying they are simply trying to distract from the embarrassing revelation that Gantz’s cell phone was hacked, reportedly by Iran.

The Likud has capitalized on the fact. Netanyahu asked rhetorically earlier this week, “If Gantz could not protect his phone, how could he protect our country?”

The Likud has also said that Iran hopes Gantz will win the elections, basing its accusation on an Iranian state media broadcast which wished Gantz success.

The Likud notes as supporting evidence that Gantz backed the 2015 Iran nuclear deal pushed by then-President Barack Obama, which Netanyahu adamantly opposed.